Marketing plan

Win the Short Race: The Key to Marketing Nonfiction

Say you’re in a bar. With people. Someone approaches you and asks, “How’s it going with your author business?” 

You answer in one of the following three ways: 

  1. “Well, the CTR on my CTA is fourteen percent lower even though I increased my ad spend by ten percent. My unsubscribe rate increased eight percent, but worst of all, the fall-off rate increased at step four in my nurturing sequence, yet my ROI still increased four percent compared with last month. Hey, if I buy two drinks at the bar right now before the happy hour ends, we’ll save fifty percent.” 
  2. “Things are happening. People buy books occasionally. I might have made a profit last month, but I won’t know until, well, I’m not sure because I don’t really understand that part when they buy my books and then they are supposed to, well, do that next step, and something should probably happen. I could get us another drink if you’d like.”
  3. “I made more money than last month, and I know why. I already ordered us both another drink.”

Who are you?

Who would you like to be?

  • Nonfiction Author #1 isn’t human. Or at least is part robot/accountant/mathematician. Maybe part writer. Maybe 12 percent writer. 
  • Nonfiction Author #2 is probably having some success with writing. They probably enjoy writing. Hopefully. 
  • Nonfiction Author #3 has clarity and confidence.

Who was it you wanted to be again? 

Certain authors we know (we won’t name names) don’t want to admit they’re Nonfiction Author #2 but declare with passion they’re in the fast lane toward becoming Nonfiction Author #1. However, that “fast lane” is packed with traffic from everyone who thinks they have to do all of the things to become the nonfiction author superstar of their dreams. Or is it their nightmares?

What if the dream were to become Nonfiction Author #3? The one who knows what’s going on and what to do next and why and how to do it.

Did you catch that? It went by very quickly, and it didn’t have any fancy marketing terms in it: 

  1. They know what’s going on (clarity).
  2. They know what to do next and how to do it (confidence).

If it seems a little like Author #3 knows what to do and has the confidence to execute, that’s because that’s exactly what’s going on. 

If you’re reading this, thinking, “Uh, yeah, a bit of clarity? Confidence in what to do next? I’d like that.” Here we go. 

You will struggle to improve on a process that isn’t finished. How do we know what’s working and how well it’s working if it’s not actually working yet? 

Pro Tip: We don’t. We can’t improve on something that doesn’t exist. We need to first finish before we can improve. 

What if we created the tiniest of processes, the simplest of roadmaps, the easiest of steps along a reader journey? 

Then we observed how it worked—or didn’t. We saw what could be improved—and fixed it. We kept going with this tiny step until it was working well—before we moved onto the next step. 

Does that sound simple? 

It can be. 

Do you know what’s super fun about tiny assignments? They’re doable. Do you know what happens when we finish things? We win. We succeed. We gain clarity and confidence. 

On the other hand, what happens when we find ourselves down the long path of the slog, the never-ending traffic jam of the zillion things you’re supposed to be doing on the road to somewhere, and you’re not sure where you are, when you’ll get there (if ever), or why you’re even on this journey anyway?

Let’s implement the tiniest of challenges to create a system that we can get working quickly. Ready? 

  1. Offer: Create a link in your book for the reader to get something from you.
  2. Deliver: Set up a way for the reader to get that item
  3. Connect: Begin the conversation. Track who, how many, how often. 

Notice there is no mention of technology, software, systems, or tools. We have all of the things accessible to us for free or low-cost. 

PRO TIP: It costs five times as much effort, money, energy, time, etc. to obtain a new client as it does to retain an existing one. 

Even though a reader buys, possibly loves, and even hopefully reviews our books, we still don’t know who that person is.

Yet while that reader is in our book, while they have it in their hands, and while we’re in their heads, unless they take an action and connect with us, the authors, they are still almost as hard to reach as another new reader. 

Our goal, then, is to connect with that reader who wants to connect with us. How can we do that? 

Offer

The easiest way to think about an offer is to think about your mom. What would she want to know that’s not in your book? If your mom brings up only images of homework and curfews, think of your biggest fan—even if imaginary. 

What would they want to know beyond the book? In nonfiction, the ideas are only limited to your imagination—but also keep in mind what’s relevant and enticing for them. It should also be easily consumable and doable for the reader (i.e. not another full-length book). 

Some ideas are: video (you on camera adding to the topic), interviews (audio and/or video) of you talking with someone relevant to your book, a checklist (to help them keep track of what’s in your book), or a roadmap. Deleted scenes are fun, even for nonfiction. Maybe a list of bad book title ideas. 

See how this could be fun? Keep it light, easy, simple, and doable.

Deliver

Without digging too deep into the technical aspects here, make an easy-to-spell link in your book (e.g. yourname.com/bonus) that leads to a landing page where readers can sign up to receive your free offer. 

Keep this super simple. That landing page should have one hyper-focused goal: for the reader to enter their first name and email and then immediately receive your offer. 

Any mailing list service worth its salt should make this possible. Set up a landing page and an auto-responder—an email that delivers the offer automatically after a reader signs up. 

Connect

Entire books are written about this step, but many of us stop before we get there.

Pro Tip for Mindsets: Remember above about your mom? Or your superfan? This reader wants to hear from you. They read your book; they signed up for your offer. They like you. They want more of you. No, seriously. 

Read the paragraph above three times, and then this email is easy to write. 

In your mailing list software, you’ll want to set up an auto-responder. What should you say? Thank them. Ask them how you can help or provide more for them. This is a crucial moment in your relationship with them, so use it strategically. Be friendly and be yourself. Keep it short, simple, and sweet. 

Evaluate

What we want to achieve is this system, this roadmap, this—dare we use a marketing term?—funnel. 

Get the simple thing done. Make it good. Make it better. Make it awesome. Are you wondering how to evaluate? The simplest thing to remember is not to compare yourself with others. Compare your funnel and numbers this month with last month, not the last hour with the previous. 

Pro Tip: Have patience, and when you finish the tiniest of things, celebrate the win.

That’s it. If you do this—complete this tiny task, test it, and improve on it—you’re ahead of most in the “I just want to write the next book” camp of authors. 

But get it done, because done is better than perfect—and so much more fun. 

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